Monday, September 22, 2014

Moment-to-Moment

Interesting to you how two disciplines with little or no apparent similarities will each have a similar defining approach to a basic element.  You're thinking right now about physics and drama.  You could just as well have spoken of the way things work in Reality and the way things work in story.

The phenomenon of which you speak is moment.  Sometimes in your perambulations through the reaches of Reality, you wear a wire which records conversations you track on your way.  Only this morning, working at your breakfast almond croissant and coffee, you heard a fragment of a conversation that arrested you.  The conversation was about a particular thing or person not mattering.  You were taken by the choice of words.  "It [whatever the thing was] is of no moment."

You had to see the people having this conversation because of the way that one sentence, culled from the morning mist of breakfast coffee and rolls, evoked Shakespeare for you or, to be fair, Ben Johnson or Christopher Marlowe.  Possible later on in history.  Oscar Wilde?  Arthur Wing Pinero?  Harold Pinter?  No matter.  

The language got to you with its seeming classical turn.
The speakers threw another anomaly at you.  From their dress and stature, they appeared to be contractors or construction workers, from the likes of whom you would not expect to hear "moment" use in that manner.

Another score for the Universe.  You like anomalies, actual plants and flowers growing as volunteers in the most out-or-the-reach places, food trucks taking the step beyond standard fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs or tacos and burritos to what has been called fusion foods, where cultures blend, mesh, intertwine.

You remember a moment now at least forty years in the past, because it took place when you lived in Santa Monica.  There, at the Buddhist Temple in West Los Angeles, in celebration of Hana Matsuri, the birthday celebration for The Buddha, you saw Asian kids eating pizza and tacos, Japanese kids eating burritos, and African Americans wielding chopsticks with which to manage their sukiyaki.

So far as physicists are concerned, a moment is a combination of a physical quality and distance, the fusion food of that discipline.  Dramatists and actors, the individuals who portray the dramatists' works, see a moment as a particle of the larger dramatic genome.  

Moments are events in a specified time frame; they are either reproduced right here, in the present moment, or are descriptions or reenactments of moments from the past, brought into the present moment.

Moments in drama behave at times as though they were the bumper cars of fun-zone entertainment booths.  Both are in constant danger of collision, which makes the dramatic zone and the arcade zone vehicles more likely to collide with as yet unanticipated results.

There are moment's notices, in which there is only a short time for some news of a new potential for collision.  There are moments of rest, but if you look closely, you'll see how well-engineered these moments are; at the moment the audience's sense of interest and concern seem about to break, there is another moment introduced, a moment of collision.

There are moments of madness, moments of regret, moments of sanity, moments when the tab is summoned, moments of respect, even moments of truce.  However they are described, these are the pulse points of story.

You've seen drawings and photographs of atomic and subatomic particles, invited them into your awareness with the notion that they would help you understand more of the physical and textural properties of this Reality in which you live.  In a number of ways, these tiny particles inform your tendencies toward believing or not believing things you can't actually see, but do take as a given.

At some point when you construct a story or an essay, you arrive once again at the plateau where you understand the basic physics of drama:  You have to experience and believe all these multitudes of moments, and their effects on one another.

You have had help from all the moments spent on rereading things you thought you understood the first time through.



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